WENATCHEE — Hunting can be an obsession. Perhaps nobody knows that better than Eric Wulf of Wenatchee. What many people consider a sport or hobby, Wulf has turned into a lifestyle. Sometimes he calls his passion for waterfowl hunting a disease. And now it’s televised.
“It’s grown from a hobby to a sickness. It’s a way of life,” said Wulf, 39.
Wulf and several hunting friends belonging to a group called Team Maniac recently completed their first season of production for “The Fowl Life.” The weekly hunting show airs nationally and in Canada on the Sportsman Channel, the Outdoor Channel and other cable television stations dedicated to outdoor sports. The show ran from last June through this month with 13 original episodes and reruns. Wulf and other members of the team are now shooting episodes that will air in 2010.
The show takes him hunting for duck and geese in Washington, Nevada, Wyoming and Canada, and occasionally for predators, like coyotes in Nevada and Mexico.
Wulf operates a Wenatchee landscape construction business. He’s also a Canada goose-hunting guide and cultivates farmland for waterfowl hunting. He’s a 1988 graduate of Wenatchee High School, where he starred in baseball, football and basketball. He was a Pac 10 all-star catcher at Washington State University and was drafted by the Colorado Rockies. He played A and AA minor league baseball for the Rockies and later the Florida Marlins before injuries and disillusionment with life on the road led him to quit and return to WSU to complete his degree. He came back to Wenatchee, where he’s lived with his wife, Rosemary, since 1994. They have two daughters, Kailin, 9, and Maeghan, 8.
“I was wore out and tired of living out of a suitcase,” Wulf said of his baseball career.
After returning to Wenatchee, he renewed old friendships with people he had hunted with since his early teens. As his passion for hunting waterfowl grew, he was introduced to others with similar interests, including Chad Belding of Sparks, Nev. Belding is a lifelong hunter who owns several businesses focused on waterfowl hunting. Two years ago, Wulf, Belding and another friend, Brian Bowers of Seattle, went in together to buy 110 acres of flooded corn, oats and barley farmland near Othello that they are grooming into a wildfowl hunting preserve.
While hunting together a few months later, Belding began talking about the shortage of quality hunting videos on cable networks. He suggested they start filming their own hunting expeditions and those of close friends who were similarly crazy about bird hunting. The idea was to produce exciting videos full of useful, safe hunting tips that show respect for the animals. Belding would round up sponsors to pay for travel and production and host the shows. Wulf would coordinate locations with local guides. Alex Langbell, a waterfowl hunting guide and videographer from Richland, would oversee production. Wulf appears in many of the episodes. All steps of production are done by Team Maniac members and associates, Wulf said.
The company — Banded Productions — hasn’t made any money yet. Possibly it never will. It’s very expensive to put a show on network TV, Wulf said. Those costs have to be paid for by sponsorships, of which there aren’t many right now because of the down economy, he said. Still, the show offers Wulf and his friends a great excuse to gain hunting thrills all over the country.
“The highlight is to see everyone’s hard work come to fruition,” he said. “It’s not every day a group of guys can decide to produce a television series doing what they love to do and get it on television.”
Rick Steigmeyer: 664-7151